22nd Punjabis

This article is about the 22nd Punjabis and will help you to research the Battalion and soldiers who served with it during the First World War. I’ve written a separate article for war-raised 2nd Battalion 22nd Punjabis and a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army during World War One. To view the guides click on the blue links below:

The 22nd Punjabis in the First World War

Lineage: Formed at Mooltan (Multan) by Captain E. S. Denniss in 1857 from 8 companies transferred from the 1st Sikh Infantry and the 3rd Punjab Police Battalion and designated the 11th Regiment of Punjab Infantry. Then in 1861, it became the 26th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry and in the same year the 22nd Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. Then in 1864 the 22nd (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry and in 1885 the 22nd (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Infantry. In 1901 the 22nd Punjab Infantry and then the 22nd Punjabis in 1903. In 1922 became the 3rd Battalion 14th Punjab Regiment.

Class Composition in 1914: 4 Companies of Sikhs, 3 Companies of Punjabi Musalmans and 1 Company of Pathans. 1919: 2 Companies of Sikhs, 1 1/2 Companies of Punjabis Musalmans and 1/2 Company of Pathans.

Location in August 1914: The 22nd Punjabis was stationed at Dacca, having arrived from Benares (Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh) on 11th April 1914.

The 22nd Punjabis was stationed at Dacca in August 1914, having only recently left their previous station at Benares on 11 April 1914. The Regiment served as part of the 17th (Ahmednagar) Brigade in the 6th (Poona) Division in the Mesopotamia Campaign in what is now Iraq. The Regiment left India in late November 1914 on board the Hired Transport Baroda and disembarked at Maghil, a small village near Basra on 1 December 1914. The extract below was taken from the October 1914 Indian Army List and recorded the British officers serving with the Regiment.

22nd Punjabis British Officers WW1The 22nd Punjabis suffered few casualties between December 1914 and the Battle of Es Sinn fought on the 28 September 1915. The Regiment spent a lot of its time constructing forts and bunds and on fatigue duty. On the 11 January 1915, the Regiment moved to Kurna and spent months constructing Mezera Fort. A full description of the Regiment’s activities and movements can be found in its war diary and by June the 22nd Punjabis had reached Amarah. By June 1915 the Regiment had only suffered a handful of battle casualties though malaria had caused widespread sickness during the summer months.

The 22nd Punjabis took part in two battles during the second half of 1915. The first was the Battle of Es Sinn on the 28 September 1915 and the war diary contains a very detailed description. The Regiment suffered over 160 casualties during the battle, though the vast majority were wounded. After the battle, the 6th (Poona) Division continued its march towards Baghdad until it was stopped at the Battle of Ctesiphon which was fought between 22 and 25 November 1915. The 22nd Punjabis started the battle with a total of 690 officers and men and suffered 308 casualties.

After Ctesiphon, the 6th (Poona) Division retreated to the town of Kut-al-Amara where it was besieged between the 7 December 1915 and 29 April 1916 when the Division surrendered. The 22nd Punjabis was captured along with the rest of the Division and the officers and men suffered terrible treatment by the Turks during their captivity. A list of the Indian officers and men taken prisoner by the Turks during the Mesopotamia Campaign can be found at the British Library. After the 22nd Punjabis was captured at Kut, a 2nd Battalion was formed from the remnants of the Regiment and large drafts from others. I have dealt with this Battalion in a separate article: 2nd Battalion 22nd Punjabis.

The survivors of the Kut garrison were released in batches in the winter of 1918 and many rejoined their old regiments. The 1st Battalion 22nd Punjabis was at Quetta (Balochistan, Pakistan) when the Third Anglo-Afghan War broke out on the 6 May 1919 and served with Baluchistan Force in the Chaman area. The Battalion was part of the 11th Infantry Brigade 4th Indian Division and there is a war diary covering the period between June and August 1919. The Battalion was at Kohat (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) in the April 1920 Indian Army List and at Rawalpindi (Punjab, Pakistan) in the July 1921 edition. In 1922 the 22nd Punjabis became the 3rd Battalion 14th Punjab Regiment.

War Diaries of the 22nd Punjabis

There are two war diaries for the 22nd Punjabis but only the first covering Mesopotamia has been digitized. To download this war diary for a small fee click on the first blue link below which will take you to the National Archives’ website. The second war diary covering the Third Anglo-Afghan War can only be viewed at the National Archives. I have copies of both war diaries and have transcribed some entries below.

  • Date: 01 November 1914 – 30 October 1915
  • 17th Indian Brigade, 6th (Poona) Division, Mesopotamia
  • Reference: WO 95/5122/4
  • Notes: A good war diary for the earlier months while the 22nd Punjabis are working on fatigues there are few entries. There are very detailed accounts of an attack on positions held by the 22nd Punjabis on the night of the 29-30 January, 31 May – 01 June and the Battle of Es Sinn. Unfortunately, the war diaries covering the period between November 1915 and April 1916 were destroyed when Kut-al-Amara fell.
  • Date: 01 June – 31 August 1919
  • 11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Indian Division, Baluchistan Force
  • Reference: WO 95/5412
  • Notes: A good war diary with entries becoming longer in July 1919.

Further Sources for the 22nd Punjabis 

A good source for the Regiment and the British officers who served with it are its confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. These reports also contain the annual reports of the British officers serving with the Regiment. However, when the 22nd Punjabis was abroad only the Depot and the British officers serving with it are reported on. For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 22nd Punjabis, the Indian Army List should be consulted. 

Extracts from War Diaries of the 22nd Punjabis

01 November 1914 – 30 October 1915, Mesopotamia, WO 95/5122/4

01 November 1914 – Lahore Cantonment – Arrived to complete mobilization.

18 November 1914 – Karachi – Arrived at Keamari docks 2 pm. Completed embarkation on B.I. SS. Baroda at 8 pm.

04 December 1914 – Maghil Camp – The Regiment was employed on fatigue duties, improving communications in camp making bridges etc. General Officer Commanding the 17 Brigade made an inspection of the proposed camp for the Brigade.

20 February 1915 – A Persian officer (wounded) was brought into camp by a covering party under Jemadar Ujyar Singh which [sic] party was sent out to protect a gang of Arab coolies working on the construction of a bund on the left bank of the Tigris…

01 April 1915 – Mezera Fort – Regiment fatigues. Constructing shelters, huts for officers and men, water bunds, bailing out water from adjacent flooded areas.

12 – 14 April 1915 – Mezera Fort – On these 3 days the enemy bombarded Kurna having 4 guns in position, their objective apparently Fort Snipe and Fort ?sloe. A few shells were directed towards Fort Mezera but fell very short. A centre portion of the floating bridge was blown up by a floating mine at daylight on the 12.

07 May 1915 – Mezera – 64 rifles under Captain Wallace in bellums formed part of raiding expedition under Colonel ? up the Euphrates, returned the same evening. Brought in some old rifles loot.

11 May 1915 – Mezera – Ambush party under 1 NCO and 10 men surprised a party of Arabs at night who were destroying the bridges on the road (? Pier) killing one and wounding several. Brick making and boiling water.

14 May 1915 – Mezera – Regimental fatigues. Body of dead Arab came to the surface of the water where the ambush fired on the 11 instant.

01 June – 31 August 1919, Baluchistan Force, WO 95/5412

21 June 1919 -Spin Boldack – Defence and communications. Rifle exercises daily. A draft of 46 Indian other ranks of 2nd Battalion 19th Punjabis arrived from Quetta on 19 July 1919. This draft has a large proportion of bad characters which I consider a danger to any regiment in the field. I have therefore applied for them to be returned to Quetta and replaced by men of this unit from the Regimental depot. I suggest that these men might be returned whence they came.

26 June 1919 – Spin Boldack – Battalion on duty. 424 men employed on demolishing village of Sin Boldack, 100 on work on water channel and supply officers working parties.

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